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Quadriplegic wants neighbors to swap parking spaces for his wheelchair-accessible van, but they won’t

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    HIGHLAND PARK, Illinois (WBBM) — A quadriplegic in Highland Park has a request for his neighbors.

He wants them to swap parking spots so that he has enough space for his wheelchair-accessible van in the garage.

But the neighbors are not interested, and CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas learned disability rights laws only go so far in situations like these.

For Chris Block, getting into the van is a small victory unto itself.

“I don’t have any movement from the armpits down,” Block said. “I’m working kind of best can to overcome my physical limitations and whatnot.”

On the day we met Block, no one was parked in the space next to his – the spot where his ramp extends out from his parking spot.

But that space is linked to another condo unit, so when his neighbor parks in the garage, he cannot.

“I would like to just be able to access grocery stores, restaurants – whatever I’d like – without having to knock on my neighbor’s door and ask, Can you move your car for five minutes so I can access my car?’” Block said.

The condo association said they assigned him a second space – one just outside the garage. But he said it can be tough going down the ramp if there’s snow and ice.

“I circulate blood so poorly, so when it’s really cold, I can’t move as well,” Block said.

So Block identified a few other spots in the garage that would work for him – spots that are next to entranceways with plenty of space.

He asked those condo owners to trade spots, but they’re not interested. One told him their lawyer advised against it.

“It would be really kind and nice if someone were to just swap spots with me, because it’s just a 10-foot difference.” Block said.

Federal law says housing providers need to make reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. So we decided to ask the attorneys at Access Living about situations like Block’s.

“We hear about this type of case occasionally,” said attorney Ken Walden.

Walden said when spaces are assigned to residents, like many apartment buildings, the management can often just tell someone to switch. But condo buildings can be trickier, because the spaces are often deeded to the homeowners.

“The association, its attempts to do that, are going to be blocked by owners who own the spaces – so they bump up against the property rights of the owners,” Walden said.

A lawyer for the condo association said they have reached out to the other owners, but those owners are not budging.

The attorney aid said r client has done everything they can, and they can’t make someone swap spots.

“There’s nothing I can do,” Block said. “If somebody wants to be ignorant or close the door in my face, then I’ve accepted that’s life.”

For now, Block is just hoping his neighbors will change their minds.

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